When I was in sixth grade I read my first Stephen King book, Salem’s Lot. I loved it, clearly, as you can tell from numerous posts I’m a bit obsessed with the work of Uncle Stevie. Once I completed the book I realized that I wanted more from these characters. There was a part of me that needed to know the rest of their story. Did they continue to hunt vampires the rest of their lives? Did they go from town to town purging these undead monsters? Were they ever able to move on from loves lost? The internet wasn’t a thing when I was a kid (can you imagine?) so I did the only thing I could think of… I attempted to write that story myself. I continued the adventures of the characters I had fallen in love with in the hopes of learning more of them. This was a project that I never finished, and I’m pretty sure there’s a notebook filled with pages of a possible sequel somewhere in my parent’s basement just waiting to be found. It was also my first real introduction to fan fiction.
One of the coolest aspects of fandom is our ability to love and covet stories and characters as our own. Stories are made to be consumed and we, the fandom, consume them like animals out of a trough. More, more, more, more. Eventually, though our stories stop. Whether it’s the conclusion of a television show (God forbid it’s canceled) or the end of a book series, there are always some fans who want more. I can’t blame them. Part of being a fan is that greedy nature of wanting all and everything that concerns the story you’ve fallen in love with. In some ways, it’s a part of the fun. Just think of that excitement when you hear that something new is coming out from the something special you love. There’s nothing quite like it. A lot of the times though show runners or authors don’t want to compromise their original story and leave things alone. I can respect that. That’s where fandom comes in to pick up the reigns.
Fan fiction comes from a place of love, I generally believe that. Fans who just covet these characters and story so much that they need to create more. I respect the hell out of it as it takes your fandom and allows you to spin something creative out of it. That’s a gift when you think about it. The thing about it is… I can’t get into fan fiction. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to read fan fiction from LOST and I may have dabbled in a little Star Wars fan fiction, but it always reaches the same results. I get a paragraph or a couple of pages in and I can’t go any further. It’s not what I want. I want the show or book, not someone else’s interpretation of it. I perceive this story differently than the author and while we may love the same things it doesn’t necessarily mean that it represents the same thing to us.
I don’t want to knock fan fiction because it’s become such a tremendous outlet for so many fans, and like I said before, I love how it generates creativity. Hell, I even thought about dabbling in a little when it came to LOST. If you listen to the first episode, I think it was the first episode, of the I Am Geek Podcast then you heard my idea for a LOST sequel. I filled pages of notebooks with outlines and ideas of how to make it work but ultimately did nothing with the story. I don’t know why either as my outline was pretty stellar. Not to toot my own horn or anything (#toottoot). I really don’t know why I never wrote my LOST sequel. Maybe the scope of the project scared me or maybe it was because I didn’t think people would read it or maybe it was because I was afraid I would do the story a disservice. It could even be all of the above for all I know. I was young and obsessed but I loved the late nights I would spend in my notebook mapping out what could come next. If nothing else it could be just for me and that’s cool and essentially that’s what fan fiction is. Yes, a large amount of the fandom could access fan fiction anywhere on the internet but when push comes to shove that story was written specifically for the person who wrote it.
Fan fiction is tough and I find that a lot of it (for me) doesn’t capture the tone or voice that I’m accustomed to. I find that a lot of it takes the “cool” elements of the story and tries to recapture them opposed to creating something authentic that could live and breathe within the world of the story that inspired it. Maybe I’m just reading the wrong types of fan fiction, and that’s completely possible, or maybe I’m just reading bad fan fiction. Whatever the case may be it’s left a bad taste in my mouth and it’s not a medium I’ve returned to. I have a tough time reading Star Wars books or Rick and Morty comics because I don’t feel that they capture what I love about the source material. There are times where it feels that I’m reading a Star Wars story opposed to a Star Wars story. If that makes any sense.
If you’re into fan fiction I’m not here to tell you to stop reading it or that you’re a fool for enjoying it. That’s not fair and never has been a theme of this website to cut you down for what you love. If you love it then enjoy the hell out of it. If you write it then enjoy the hell out of that too. I’m just saying that it’s not my bag. I’m a little more selfish with my fan fiction. I keep it in my imagination because it’s what I want to see. A part of me wishes I wasn’t so picky and judgey when it comes to fan fiction but I can’t help it. Just the way my mind is constructed. Who knows, maybe there is a whole level of Harry Potter fan fiction out there waiting for me to fall in love with. Maybe this piece will get one of you to direct me in the direction of something I’m missing out on. I don’t know. In the mean time, I’ll keep all my fan fiction in my head and expand stories that way. In my head the voice is always right and the stories are always the one I want to experience. I think sometimes with fan fiction the excitment of creating something in the world you love gets lost in translation.